Former Oakdale High School softball standout, Brianna Parker, graduated from Texas Southern University on May 16. Parker played for the university’s softball team all four seasons and helped her team win the South West Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship the last two seasons. She was named to the All-SWAC All-Tournament her senior year.
“My dream, like most teenagers, was to attend an out of state college. I got that opportunity and I will cherish that opportunity,” recalled Parker.
While playing for a travel softball team, Parker was approached by a scout from Texas Southern University at a tournament at Huntington Beach in 2010. She verbally committed to the university the following day over the phone.
Growing up in Oakdale, Parker’s softball journey began like most young girls as she signed up for the Oak Valley Youth Softball Association (OVYSA) at a young age. She was coached by Pete Cordova and fell in love with the sport. She was a pitcher throughout her time in the program and when she was a freshman at OHS, she was the lone freshman on the varsity softball team. Parker earned a spot in the rotation as a pitcher her freshman year but was placed at first base her following three seasons.
“I liked playing at first base. It was new to me and I wanted to thrive at it. It was a new challenge and I feel like I succeeded at it,” Parker said of switching from the pitcher’s circle to the first base corner.
The Lady Mustangs won three of four Valley Oak League titles during Parker’s tenure at OHS.
“My time at OHS was one of the best periods of my life. When you grow up in a town like ours, you know almost everyone and that made it easy in sports,” Parker said. “A lot of us grew up together, dating back to time in the OVYSA program. We would hang out together and that was probably the best part about it. We were all friends.”
After Parker graduated OHS, she packed up her belongings and headed to Houston, Texas to begin her journey with the Tigers.
“When I first showed up, I was nervous but when I met my teammates and coaches, they were very welcoming and I felt that family atmosphere right away. That made for an easy transition and I was ready for work.”
Parker helped the Tigers win their first SWAC championship in 2013 after a 6-3 win over Mississippi. Her senior season, the Tigers won it again, this time in a 9-0 shutout win over Alabama State.
“Winning the two titles was great. The program had not won a SWAC title in almost a decade. So when we got there in 2013 we knew we had to win. Then winning another title was amazing. Our coaches have worked so hard and that was for them,” Parker said.
Her NCAA career came to a close after the Tigers dropped two games in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship Regionals. The squad fell to Louisiana State University (LSU) and Nebraska in the tournament.
“The number one thing that I will take from my playing days was the excitement that softball brought to me. Making plays, whether it was as a pitcher or in the infield when it counted, will always be my motivation,” explained Parker. “I always wanted to try my hardest. The advice I want to leave young aspiring softball players with is have fun. At any level you want to win, but that should not stand in the way of enjoying yourself. If you take it too serious, you will miss out on your time with your teammates and coaches. While you are out there, remind yourself to enjoy the game.”